Colorado LP's Success

February 1994, from David Aitken, on reasons why the Libertarian Party of Colorado has been successful:

  1. Our membership director is in his third year in that position. He (David Bryant) works very hard at it and also puts a fair amount of money into it. This, probably more than anything else, may be what is responsible for our membership growth.

  2. The Board of Directors of the state party has been very stable over the past few years. Leadership changes have been minimal. I'm in my second term as chairman; that's true for many other board members as well. (I will probably run for a third term and may try to serve through the 96 election.) It's my belief that it takes six months to get settled into a new job. If your term of office is one year, that blows half your time. If you have more than half your board members turn over each election, you probably don't have any momentum or long term focus.

  3. We have a board of directors that is built around line functions, not staff functions. A staff board has a president, vp, secretary, and treasurer. A line board has a chairman, treasurer, membership director, campaigns director, publications director, public relations director, and fundraising director. Or something along those lines. These are functional positions directly related to the things that the party needs to do. We used to have five members but last year we split communications into publications and public relations, and finance into treasurer and fundraising; those jobs were not only too big for one person, they require different personality types. These are elected positions; they get filled at our annual convention and everybody knows they are making a one year committment and it is fairly obvious what they should be focusing on.

  4. Very few activists in Colorado talk politics. They're too busy doing things. There are no serious personality conflicts on the board. Everybody seems to work together fairly well.

  5. We mail out about 1700 copies of our monthly newsletter, the CLiPboard. It goes to current and past members, including registered Libertarians (voter registration), inquires (3 months) and subscribers (1 year). Since we only have about 230 current members and subscribers, you can see we're subsidizing about 1500 free copies. That will go down shortly as we just started printing membership renewal info on the mailing label like most magazines do and will be cutting people off after about 3 years of no activity. (This is a new policy; don't know what impact it will have.) Last April at our state convention the members voted to send out the CLiPboard to current members using first class mail. It used to be that everybody went bulk mail. I feel this is a very beneficial policy as the activists get theirs quickly and you know the others aren't real interested. We're also putting a sticker (red ink on white) that says "FREE COPY, PLEASE JOIN OR RENEW TODAY" on those copies we send for free. This is brand new so I don't know how it's going to work. The stickers are $15 per thousand. I have no idea what impact, if any, these new policies will have on growth. I hope none since we're talking about the back end of the member cycle, not the front end.

  6. We don't run many candidates, in part because being a candidate is a big job if you're going to do it right, in part because just getting on the ballot is a big problem, particularly for state legislature where we might actually do some damage. (The D's and R's raised the sigs for state house from 300 to 1000 a couple of years ago.)

  7. Most of our local groups (we have 7 active ones) spend their time on speakers for their monthly meetings, rallys, initiative campaigns, fairs, and other similar stuff.

  8. I've been doing a fair amount of outreach in the past two years. United We Stand America, Black Republican Men's Group, Citizens Against Censorship (ACLU, Libraries, Booksellers, etc). One of our former state chairs got elected to the state legislature as a Republican. So far he has done a fairly good job of holding to his libertarian philosophy so we've been able to work together.

  9. Andre Marrou got 34 percent of his Colorado vote in Denver County where I live. Denver has only 14 percent of the state's voters.

  10. The state board does very little except publish the CLiPboard, membership activities, act as a central hub of information, coordinate with national, remind people of things which need doing, run the business portion of the annual convention. We try and push all activity and authority down to the local level. Maybe we should add a local affiliates and a campus director to the board, but I don't want the board to get too cumbersome and unwieldy. The board meets once a month to review activities; is strictly related to business; and the meeting is almost always done in 2 hours. Board members report on what they've done in the past month or what they plan to do in the next. I try and call during the month if I think someone needs a push. We do not talk politics or issues. We have a real office. It's been in the same sleazy location for about 6 years now. The phone number is published in the voter's information guide in the phone book. The voter's information guide is printed in every phone book in the state.

  11. I wear a coat and tie; don't have a beard. I'm a businessman, so I present that image. There may be more than a grain of truth to that old saw that you can sell radical ideas in a suit and tie, mainstream ideas in a beard and jeans, but you can't sell radical ideas in a beard and jeans.

  12. I spend 10 or 15 hours per week on LP business.

  13. One of our current projects is Healthy Choice. I got 500 copies (black and white printed at Office Depot for $.25 each) of the lobbying kit (brochure, briefing paper, What's wrong with Clinton's plan, Why the LP plan deserves support, other plans in congress, lobbying tips, intro letter from me, and left out all the other stuff which is primarily for LP'ers). I found 2 insurance people to take 75 copies (25 and 50), and we'll try to distribute 400 to people who are attending a meeting with Hillary next week.

  14. There's nothing in here that hasn't been said or tried before, so maybe there are external factors which account for our growth. Our growth could very well be "in spite of", not "because of", these factors. Or maybe it's the combination. I hope this provides you with some insight about what Colorado is doing.